I am pro science, but today let’s look at some of the problems with science.
1. Some of the studies are not well done, and some are actually faked – one glaring example is the English doctor who faked data linking autism and vaccines – he has since lost his license for this; he is responsible for a number of child deaths because of his “work”. The good aspect is that articles in respectable journals are peer reviewed before being published or rejected and so there is some control. Part of the philosophy of science is that a finding is not accepted as valid until it has been replicated by several independent researchers.
2. Some scientists confuse cause and effect – just because two phenomena – the price of eggs in china and the rate of obesity in the US – are correlated, they both keep going up – does not necessarily mean that they are related or that one causes the other. People who take naps have a lower mortality rate, but that doesn’t necessarily mean that naps prevent death; it seems more likely that type A personalities both die sooner and don’t stop to take naps.
3. Lack of proof does not equal proof of lack – ie just because a treatment has not been proven to work does not mean that it doesn’t work. There is a big move for “evidence based medicine”, which i believe has been carried too far. Still, i would generally prefer a treatment that has been shown to work to one that hasn’t.
4. Science is not God, but some scientists act as though it is; as though nothing else matters or is true. Parenthetically, some scientists are on a fad of proving that God does not exist. The best selling book I looked at proved that the Bible has fallacies and contradictions, and then the author leaped to contending that therefore he had proven the non existence of God. How can an intelligent person commit such a logical fallacy? The existence of God cannot be proven or disproved; a belief either way is an act of faith.
5. Some scientists gather objective data and then leap to subjective conclusions. One article studied the progress of patients with schizophrenia over a short time, which was of value, and then titled their paper “Schizophrenia has a poor prognosis”. When i objected, the authors responded that they were sorry that I didn’t like their findings. I had no problem with their findings but with their illogical leap to a questionable interpretation.
6. Some data is subjective but is treated as though it is fact. In one study I rated patients’ symptoms on a 10 point scale _ “Well, he seems a little better, maybe a six, but he’s still not sleeping very well, so maybe an 8; oh heck, let’s call it 6.5. ” and then the results were reported as an average of all the patients of 6.785. Again, the study was of value, but that kind of reporting was ridiculous.
7. On the net you can probably find some irate guy who rants that he took ritalin (methylphenidate) and his nose turned green and one of his ears fell off. His errors are overgeneralizing – he implies that this will happen to anyone who takes ritalin – and the cause and effect error – he assumes that the ritalin caused this.
Well, there’s more, but this is already too long. But then there is Bush, who totally rejects science – the arrogance of ignorance. Let’s try to use common sense and logic, weak though they may be. I recommend paying attention to the science, but with a grain of skepticism.
on science and faith clik